AN ILMINSTER man has called on more people to help save lives by giving blood after hitting a donation milestone.

Chris Stuckey recently gave his 50th pint of blood after nearly two decades of supporting the cause.

He first started donating when he was a sixth form student at Wadham School.

Chris said: “Our science teacher, who was head of sixth form, pushed it quite a bit.

“He got us into it by saying if we went down and gave blood at lunchtime we could have the afternoon off. That was 19 years ago.”

After his first donation in 2000, Chris continued to give blood, and even carried on with a friend after they had left school.

The pair used to make their donations at sessions at the Shrubbery Hotel.

“I never thought I would donate 50 times,” Chris said.

“You never think that far ahead when you are 18.

“The first time we did it there was a big group of us that went down together. One passed out before we even made it in, but since then I haven’t seen any problems.”

The Ilminster man has regularly donated three times a year, increasing to four after a change in rules allowed men to donate more frequently.

He added: “It’s nothing to be scared of. Just try it once and see if it is OK, and then you can say you have done your bit.

“They are quite keen to have my going back because my blood type is quite rare.”

Chris has O rhesus negative blood, which is also known as the universal blood type.

This means it works with everyone, so if they don’t know your blood type and you go into hospital, doctors are able to utilise Chris’ donations.

“It does feel good knowing I am helping, and especially now they have an app so it tells you when you are due an appointment, and then it says when and where your blood was used,” Chris said.

“It is not always local, my last one was Royal London Hospital, before that it was Royal Stoke university Hospital, so it is all over the place.”

An NHS Blood and Transplant spokesperson said: “We are very grateful to Chris for his commitment and loyalty to blood donation. Reaching the 50th donation milestone is a brilliant achievement.

“Taking time to donate blood is one of the most selfless and generous things you can do to help others, and we hope that Chris will continue to donate as long as he is able to.”

Nearly 5,000 donations are needed every day to meet the needs of hospital patients in England.

The NHS needs nearly 400 new, first time donors every day to meet patients needs.

The service especially needs young donors because most are over 45.

The spokesman added: “Blood donors save and improve lives.

“Each donation can help up to three adults or six infants.

“Donated blood is used to treat critically ill patients, whether they have cancer, a blood disorder, been in an accident, or if they have lost blood in surgery or childbirth.”

The NHS urgently needs 40,000 more black donors because they are more likely to have blood types needed to transfuse patients with sickle cell disease.

As long as you are fit and healthy, weigh over 7 stone 12 lbs and are aged between 17 and 65, most people can start donating.